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Title: Host-symbiont interactions : a study of Wolbachia in fungus-growing ant societies
Author: Frost, Crystal Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 2740 2958
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2011
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Wolbachia is a widespread symbiont that induces a range of phenotypic effects in its arthropod hosts, with rare horizontal transmission events interspersed with efficient vertical transmission. However, little is known about the mechanism of horizontal transmission and the effect of host life history, genetics and immunity on the spread and prevalence of Wolbachia. Here I investigate these aspects of the host-symbiont interaction using the fungus-growing ant tribe Attini. Fine-scale specialisation on the genus Acromyrmex is seen within a larger scale specialisation on New World ants. This, together with sporadic infection across the tribe, suggests that certain species are more prone to gains and losses of Wolbachia. Low infection rates within colonies, as well as less intense infections in workers compared to queens, imply host physiology affects Wolbachia infection dynamics. Infection density is also affected by host genetics. Tissue tropism does not appear to be congruent with specialisation for vertical transmission via reproductive parasitism, the most well known effects of Wolbachia. Instead tissue tropism suggests the potential for Wolbachia to interact with host metabolism and immunity, and for horizontal transmission via parasitoids or the faecal-oral route. The relationship between Wolbachia and fungus-growing ants is therefore complex, suggesting there may be far more to Wolbachia-host interactions than commonly thought.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available